The first fossil reptiles were found on the Devon coast in mid-Victorian times and, since then, many dozens of specimens have come to light.
They tell a story of life just before the dinosaurs, but part of a time of major upheaval of life in the aftermath of the great Permian-Triassic mass extinction, 252 million years ago. Only 10% of species survived that extinction event, and the recovery of life was chaotic, but crucial in the origin of modern biodiversity.
Prof Mike Benton FRS is a British palaeontologist, and professor of vertebrate palaeontology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol.
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